Locations for Santa Barbara Engagement Photos

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Santa Barbara Engagement Photos

Santa Barbara is a small town nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Ynez mountains on the Central Coast of California. It’s known for its unique red-roofed buildings with white walls and has been nicknamed the American Riviera. The abundance of colors and blooming bougainvillea bring many tourists to the city. And of course, this means that there are many unique and incredible locations for your Santa Barbara engagement photos! 

Some of our Favorite Locations for Santa Barbara Engagement Photos

The Santa Barbara Courthouse is one of our favorite locations for Santa Barbara Engagement Photos

Santa Barbara Courthouse

The courthouse is one of the most historic buildings in the area and because it’s located downtown it’s easily accessible. Additionally, photos can be taken all over the property. Our favorite photo spots are outside in the Sunken Gardens, in the open hallway, along the spiral staircase, and in the Clocktower. The architecture of the courthouse offers a lot of variety to your gallery which is why the courthouse is one of our favorite locations for Santa Barbara engagement photos.

Alice Keck Park is a great garden in the Santa Barbara area

Alice Keck Park Memorial Garden

Alice Keck Park is a public garden and is only a few blocks from the Santa Barbara Courthouse. The park is one of our town’s well-known treasures. Because the city spent a lot of time and energy building and upgrading this park, the gardens look incredible and their hard work is reflected amazingly! The trails are fresh, the greenery is alive and well, and in the spring months, the garden truly does come to life with all the blooms. Some of our couples who choose to take their engagement photos at the Santa Barbara Courthouse also decide to spend some of their time at Alice Keck Park.

Ellwood Bluffs has access to the oceans and beautiful flowers that bloom rapidly after some of the last Winter rains heading into Spring.

Ellwood Bluffs

The Ellwood bluffs are a common place for locals to exercise or catch a sunset. There are multiple trails lined with Eucalyptus trees and access to the beach a little further down the trail. The bluffs are especially beautiful around golden hour and worth walking back with a flashlight to see the sun dip below the horizon on the Pacific Ocean.

The Bacara is a beautiful location for Santa Barbara Engagement Photos

Ritz-Carlton Bacara & Haskell’s Beach

Everyone knows about the Ritz, but not every Ritz has private beach access and looks like a villa. Santa Barbara’s Ritz-Carlton has pristine landscaping, gorgeous indigenous plants, and stunning views. It’s also an incredible place to propose, or hold your wedding day reception.

Santa Barbara Sailing Center is an incredible experience for Santa Barbara Engagement Photos

Santa Barbara Harbor and Sailing Center

One of our favorite locations to take Santa Barbara engagement photos is out on the ocean. The Santa Barbara Harbor is beautiful. However, if you want the full experience we recommend going on a sailboat. Your engagement session is going to be an experience you’ll want to remember forever (and you’ll have photos to help with that) but throw in a sailboat and there’s no way you’ll be able to forget. So, book the full experience and enjoy being dressed up for a romantic sunset cruise with your fiancé.

Whispering Rose Ranch is one of our favorite venues for engagement photos in the Santa Barbara area

Whispering Rose Ranch

A long driveway lined with Birch Trees is what you’ll experience first as you pull into the parking lot of the Whispering Rose Ranch. It is a working horse ranch so if you’re lucky it is possible to get horses in your photos. The main residence is strategically placed on the highest hill that overlooks the property and the valley. It’s complete with a water fountain and mid-century french doors and stunning views of the mountains.


Some More Locations for Santa Barbara Engagement Photos




If you’re planning a garden, winery, or estate wedding and want to keep your engagement photos consistent with your wedding day we’d recommend choosing a garden or park location for your Santa Barbara engagement session. 

Alice Keck Park

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden

Ganna Walska Lotusland


Coastal Cliffs

Hendry's Beach is perfect for Santa Barbara Engagement Photos

If you’re looking for more of a dramatic coastal cliff vibe for your Santa Barbara engagement photos these three are wonderful options. One of our favorite things to recommend at these coastal cliff engagement session locations is to watch the sunset over the ocean. It makes for a romantic ending to a wonderful night.

Douglas Family Preserve

Ellwood Bluffs

Carpinteria Bluffs


Santa Barbara Beaches

Sunsets on the beach with cotton candied skies and a second image of a foggy day at the beach.

Because Santa Barbara follows the coast of the Pacific Ocean there are plenty of beaches for your engagement session. Miramar and Hammonds Beach are great locations in Montecito, and Hendry’s has many rocks and large trees that have fallen over the cliffs and onto the sand over the years. Both locations are beautiful for Santa Barbara engagement photos! Just remember to check the tides on the date of your session since some of these beaches have less sand than others.

Miramar & Hammonds Beach

Hendry’s Beach

Butterfly Beach

The Ritz-Carlton Bacara & Haskell’s Beach


Mountain Views

Lake Arrowhead and Bishop's Peak are some of our favorite mountainous areas for engagement photos in Southern California

The Santa Ynez mountain range overlooks the town of Santa Barbara. Because of this, there are a few hikes that end with incredible views of the ocean and city center. Some of our favorite hikes are a bit further out from Santa Barbara but the experience and views are absolutely worth the consideration if you’re looking for a mountain engagement session.

Lizard’s Mouth

Ojai Valley

Vasquez Rocks

Lake Arrowhead or Big Bear


Intimate Estates for your Santa Barbara Engagement Photos

Intimate Estates are incredible locations for Santa Barbara Engagement Photos

Intimate estates are unique locations for Santa Barbara engagement photos because they typically have a historic feel that adds to the beauty of your photos. And if you’re adamant about having your engagement photos at an intimate estate, we’d recommend searching on Airbnb or VRBO for an estate that you like. Once you find one, you can even plan to have a romantic getaway once you’re done. 

Whispering Rose Ranch

San Ysidro Ranch

Foxen Canyon Ranch

Knapp’s Castle


Downtown & Historic Locations

Downtown Santa Barbara has many options based on architecture. The white walls of the American Riviera make for beautiful distraction-free backdrops. The beaches are clean and some allow dogs off-leash if you want to bring your puppy. And if you’d like more of an experience-based engagement session, we’d recommend the Santa Barbara Sailing Center.

Santa Barbara Courthouse 

The Funk Zone

The Boardwalk & Downtown Santa Barbara 

Santa Barbara Sailing Center


Locations for Southern California Engagement Photos

If you’re looking to travel outside of these Santa Barbara engagement photo locations and would like some more suggestions in Southern California we’ve compiled a list of our favorites below. California is arguably the most Instagrammable state so anywhere you go will be beautiful!

El Matador State Beach 

Big Sur


Joshua Tree

Lake Tahoe

Walker Canyon – Lake Elsinore

Mount Baldy

Griffith Observatory

Sequoia National Park

Carlsbad Cliffs


Your Santa Barbara Engagement Photos

Your engagement is a celebration of your lives together and the future that you’re making for yourselves. Planning an engagement session to document this celebration is a great way to share the joy you’re experiencing with all of your loved ones. They’re also a great way for you to get comfortable being in front of the camera and will give you practice before your wedding day. So, as you plan for your Santa Barbara engagement photos we hope this guide will give you insight into the best locations for your engagement session!

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